Joshua Hillel played tennis for the first time Wednesday, and loved it.
The 9-year-old was among a group of Malverne third-graders at Hempstead Lake Indoor Tennis in West Hempstead Wednesday, where they learned the fundamentals from professional players and coaches.
“I want to play it when I grow up,” Joshua said.
That kind of talk is music to the ears of Malverne High School tennis coach Bill Bennett, who organized the event in collaboration with the United States Tennis Association and the club, which donated the use of the courts.
“I think tennis in our district is a growing sport,” Bennett said. “It’s a great thing for their health. It’s a great sport for them to have for the rest of their lives.”
Malverne High School’s tennis team only has a few players and is currently combined with East Rockaway in competition. Bennett's goal is to introduce tennis at a young age to have more players at the high school level.
Hempstead Lake tennis director Daniel Burgess said the USTA recently implemented a new teaching curriculum. By next year, there will be standards for appropriately sized balls, rackets and courts for different age groups.
“It’s a sport of a lifetime,” Burgess said. “It’s the only sport you can play with your parents when you’re 2, 3, 4 years old and then you can play with your grandparents who are 70 years old.”
Above: Eight-year-old Gregory Weinstein takes a swing after spending a few hours learning tennis at Hempstead Lake Indoor Tennis.